Art Beat

Michael Paglia's brief sketches of what's happening in the Denver art scene.

In the main room at Pirate, co-op member Tony Coulter is presenting Only Mercy, an exhibition of a dozen elegant abstract paintings. Coulterís method is simple: He smears paint horizontally and vertically on a linen canvas. The best pieces in this show are the three large ones that incorporate found fabric and a block of resin, and they are tremendous.The Secret Life of Men, in the Associatesí Gallery, highlights a group of paintings by Peter Illig, one of the best representational painters in the area. These mostly recent paintings are both an answer to and a continuation of Illigís paintings of women exhibited over the last few years. Like those, these are montages of images that fade into one another. Illig sees these paintings as cinematic and calls them letterboxes.: The images, some in color, some in black and white, are meant to be read like text from left to right and convey a narrative.

Conversion of Paul: (above) is characteristic, with Illig juxtaposing a womanís legs, a man lying on the floor (perhaps struck blind like the Apostle Paul) and a group of lady riveters standing before a passage from Nude Descending a Staircase,: by Marcel Duchamp. Other paintings also play with art history, as well as with masculine imagery and fantasy.

In a completely different mood are the intimate abstracts by Keith Wood in a tiny, self-titled exhibition in the Treasure Chest. In Keith Wood, the artist combines half a dozen oil pastel drawings from his Songbook: series with three meticulous paintings. While the drawings are only vaguely related to the paintings, they share a linear approach to composition.

These three solos display the anything-goes mentality of acceptable contemporary styles, although they show just a handful of the diverse range of approaches being embraced by painters right now -- and for the foreseeable future.

 
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